The 2002 NBA Playoffs were the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 2001-02 season. This was the final postseason that held a best-of-5 first-round series; the 2003 NBA Playoffs saw those series expand to a best-of-7 format. The tournament concluded with the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers defeating the Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Nets 4 games to 0. Shaquille O'Neal was named NBA Finals MVP for the third straight year.
This year marked the return of playoff success for the Boston Celtics, who had last made the playoffs in 1995, and made their last Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 1988. Though they eventually lost to the Nets 4-2 (preventing a Celtics–Lakers NBA Finals), they did create the biggest 4th quarter playoff comeback in Game 3, winning 94-90 after trailing by as much as 21 prior to the fourth quarter. (This record was later broken by the Los Angeles Clippers,who came back from 24 in the fourth quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies ).
The playoffs also marked the last appearance of the Charlotte Hornets in the playoffs, as they moved the next year to New Orleans. It was also the last playoff game held at Charlotte Coliseum (Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. the Nets); Charlotte's new team, the Charlotte Bobcats, played for a season at the Coliseum (without hosting a playoff game) before moving to Time Warner Cable Arena (formerly Bobcats Arena) in 2005. The city did not host a playoff game again until 2010.
The playoffs marked the last time NBC and TBS aired NBA games as regular TV partners of the league. The last TBS-aired game under its various contracts was Game 5 of the Lakers-Spurs series, while Game 4 of the NBA Finals marked the last telecast on NBC. TBS and NBC were replaced with ESPN and ABC the following season, both channels being owned by the Walt Disney Company. TBS has aired some NBA basketball in the ensuing years due to conflicts on TNT.
For the first time in his career, Michael Jordan missed the playoffs.
The total number of playoff games was 70, including the NBA Finals.
... Last Playoff Meeting This is the first meeting between the Lakers and Nets ... This was the third straight NBA Finals appearance for the Lakers, and the first in team history for the Nets ... points and the Lakers won the game and the championship, accomplishing the NBA's first 3-peat since Michael Jordan and the Bulls did so in 1998 ...